Cotinus obovatus

American Smoke Tree


Pine & James Streets, Lancaster PA


This specimen is larger than the “smoke tree” shrubs (Cotinus coggy- gria, a Euro-China native) that are more commonly seen.  Cotinus obovatus -- native to the Southern U.S. -- is not as often used in the land- scape.


The actual flowers of this plant are small and not showy.  But the struc- tures that hold the flowers are covered with hairs, and these hairs are the “smoke” for which the tree is named. (Identification of this specimen is not 100%.)


This amazing species has in the past been used so extensively as a source of yellow dye that during the Civil War it almost became extinct in its native habitats.